Apple worked with a related company in Xinjiang


Apple and Berkshire Hathaway, of Warren Buffett, have done business with a Chinese wind energy giant related to the controversial governments and labor programs in Xinjiang, where the US and other countries say China is carrying out a minority genocide Muslims.

Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology, China’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, at least once initiated talks to receive “labor exports” from Hotan prefecture to Xinjiang to a facility hundreds of kilometers away. new research has been found on the Technical Transparency Project. Hotan officials traveled to a Goldwind plant to “coordinate” labor exports as part of an effort to strengthen workers ’“ organizational and disciplinary education, ”according to an archived document local government media report discovered by Tech Transparency.

“Labor transfer” programs are closely associated forced labor for Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. “Forced labor has become an integral part of the government’s efforts to ‘re-educate’ Muslim minorities,” the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies said. wrote in 2019, as part of his extensive research on the subject.

Goldwind, one of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers, has strong ties to the ruling Communist Party typical of many successful Chinese companies. But his connections with Xinjiang are unusual. The CEO of the company has made explicit statements in support of a government program that has placed Communist Party cadres in the homes of Muslim families in Xinjiang. In December, Goldwind signed an agreement with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, a paramilitary group that the U.S. imposed sanctions last year for its connection to human rights abuses in the region.

It is unclear whether the 2016 “labor export” talks came to fruition, but the plans raise “disturbing questions about whether the wind turbine company has been involved in the exploitation of Uighurs at its base. Xinjiang, “said the Technical Transparency Project. his report, published today.

In response to questions from this article, Goldwind said that “the information and allegations of the Technical Transparency Project are categorically false and unfounded,” adding that Goldwind has never been engaged in the forced labor export from any region of China and does not use forced labor of any kind.

Goldwind also said the wind turbines it supplies to North America and other regions are manufactured and assembled on the east coast of China and not in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government is conducting a campaign of surveillance, prison, i forced labor targeting millions of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including Uighurs, Kazakhs and others. The program has provoked strong censorship by United Nations officials and governments, including the United States, the EU and Canada.

In 2016, Apple invested in four wind energy projects with Beijing Tianrun New Energy Investment, a Goldwind subsidiary that manages wind farms in China. Tianrun gave Apple a 30% stake in each project. None of the wind projects are in Xinjiang. Apple said all projects were completed in 2017 and Goldwind has not supplied them since.

The investment was part of Apple’s “commitment to reducing the carbon emissions of its manufacturing,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, social policies and initiatives. He told the state newspaper the China Daily at the time, adding that it would allow Apple to send clean energy to its suppliers in China.

“Finding the presence of forced labor is part of all the assessments we do in every country where we do business,” Apple said in response to questions about this article. “We monitored it closely and over the last year, despite the restrictions of COVID-19, we undertook new research and found no evidence of forced labor anywhere in our supply chain.”

In October 2018, Berkshire Hathaway Energy provided funding to The Chicago-based subsidiary of Goldwind will develop a $ 250 million wind farm in McCulloch County, Texas, called the Rattlesnake Wind Project. Golden wind sold the project, which he had described as the largest in the United States, in November 2020.

Berkshire Hathaway did not respond to requests for comment at the time of posting.

Goldwind’s ties with Xinjiang raise even more difficult questions for Western companies doing business with China’s fast-growing alternative energy sector. BuzzFeed News reported in January that solar energy depends largely on the key components used in solar panels that are mainly manufactured in Xinjiang.

Goldwind occupies 21% of the country’s wind market, according to data from BloombergNEF. That has state-owned shareholders, including the state-owned electric company China Three Gorges Corporation. Net profits of the company for 2020 grew about 35% to $ 452.4 million compared to a year earlier.

The US government has banned imports of tomato and cotton of Xinjiang, saying the two industries are entangled in forced labor by the Uyghurs. But Xinjiang’s largest export to the U.S. in 2020 was actually wind turbines, the South China Morning Post said was reported in December, citing Chinese government trade data.

“The United States is a hot market for wind power, so all suppliers are trying to sell it,” said Xizhou Zhou, who heads the global energy and renewables practice of IHS Markit. of market research.

Wu Gang, founder and president of Goldwind, visits southern Xinjiang (a part of the region where Uighurs make up a larger part of the population) at least six times a year for “poverty alleviation work.” consisting of living and eating with families in villages due to government requirements, according to a message published in 2018 by Goldwind’s company account on the Chinese social media platform WeChat and discovered by the Technology Transparency Project. Travel is part of a controversial government program known in Chinese as mud, an acronym for “Visit the people, benefit the people and unite the hearts of the people.”

Wu’s participation in the program is described as part of Goldwind’s job to become a good “corporate citizen”. During these trips, Wu played football with local children and created “cultural stations,” the article said.

But the mud the program facilitates state surveillance, according to a Research of 2018 by Human Rights Watch. During these visits, which can last several days, “families must provide officials with information about their lives and political views and are subject to political indoctrination,” Human Rights Watch found. The group called on the government to end the program immediately, adding that there is no evidence that families have any power to refuse such visits. He mud program also enables the government must collect data on ethnic minorities to help determine who is detained, according to Human Rights Watch.

Wu is a former member of the Chinese rubber stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, and still follows the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a legislative body whose function is largely ceremonial.

Golden wind signed his agreement with a division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in December – months after the U.S. imposed sanctions on the organization – for providing energy to a small town called Beitun. He made the deal just four months after the U.S. imposed sanctions on the XPCC.

Goldwind’s large presence in the market has earned it several Western trading partners. The Las Lomas wind project in South Texas, consisting of 48 wind turbines spread over 36,000 acres near the Mexican border, is operated by French energy company Engie and sells energy to Microsoft. An investigation by the South China Morning Post of shipping records and other official data showed that Las Lomas obtained wind turbines from Xinjiang Goldwind. Wu told Engie is an important customer of the subsidiary of Goldwind International.

“As for the situation of Uighurs in China, Engie has decided to do specific checks on its interested suppliers,” the company said in response to questions from BuzzFeed News. The company is committed to ensuring that forced labor is not used in its supply chain, he added.

Scrutiny of Apple’s work in China has been growing in recent months. The information was reported in May that he and two human rights groups had discovered seven Apple vendors linked to programs associated with forced labor. At least five of them “received thousands of Uyghur and other minority workers in specific factories or subsidiaries working for Apple,” the publication reported, adding that an Apple supplier ran a factory alongside Apple. an alleged detention center in Xinjiang.

“We urge Apple CEO Tim Cook to divert Chinese suppliers from Xinjiang involved in forced labor,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. James P. McGovern, who chairs the commission, told BuzzFeed News. executive of Congress in China. “We also ask Apple to cooperate with U.S. customs and border protection in its supply chains from China to ensure that no imports from Apple are done with forced labor. There must be a concerted response. , hard and global to the atrocities committed in Xinjiang “.

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